Tuesday, 20 October 2009

2009 Teens' Top Ten Winners

Here they are, drumroll please:

1. Paper Towns by John Green
2. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
3. The BoldHunger Games by Suzanne Collins
4. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
5. Identical by Ellen Hopkins
6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
7. Wake by Lisa McMann
8. Untamed by P.C. and Kristin Cast
9. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
10. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Okay, first of all, I'm excited because I actually read some of the books on the list this year. It is nice to know something about the kinds of books that are up for nomination. Second, I can't believe that Breaking Dawn didn't win! Wow. I figured the Twilight fans out there would crash the ballot boxes. Also, I can't believe they actually had 11,000 teens vote this year - that's amazing. I'm also happy to say that we already have some of the winners in the SRR. We have Breaking Dawn along with the other Twilight books. We have two copies of Hunger Games along with Part 2. We have City of Ashes along with City of Bones already. I have a copy of Wake. Plus Peta just sent us Untamed and Graceling. So, all in all, we are off to a really good start.

Monday, 19 October 2009

House of Night Series

Finishing school for Vampires

Yeah, I thought that would grab your attention. For all the Twilight fans out there, you'll be excited to hear that we now have the House of Night Series.

Here's how amazon describes the first book:

When sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird gets Marked as a fledgling vampire she must join the House of Night school where she will train to become an adult vampire. That is, if she makes it through the Change. But Zoe is no ordinary fledgling. She has been chosen as special by the Goddess Nyx and discovers her amazing new power to conjure the elements: earth, air, fire, water and spirit. When Zoey discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite group, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look within herself to embrace her destiny - with a little help from her new vampire friends.

Sounds good, doesn't it? I thought you'd like it. We now have four of the books in the series: Marked, Betrayed, Untamed, and Hunted. That ought to keep you girls busy for a while. In fact, I think I'll be adding this one to my to be read list (though it is getting very, very long at this point).

Once again, we have our book angel, Peta, to thank for sending us this series. All four books were ordered, brand new, from book depository and sent to us. Thank you so much Peta for sending us so many wonderful books. The girls are loving the Study Series and now we have another series that is bound to be just as popular. You're the best Peta!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Teens' Top Ten in the SRR

Here is our update on our SRR books. Books in BOLD are the ones we have.

2010 Winners
  1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (P)
  2. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (J/M)
  3. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (?)
  5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (J)
  6. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (P)
  7. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
  8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman (M)
  9. Fire by Kristin Cashore (P)
  10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

2009 Winners

  • Paper Towns by John Green
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (J)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (P/J)
  • City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (J)
  • Identical by Ellen Hopkins
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (M)
  • Wake by Lisa McMann (J)
  • Untamed by P.C. and Kristin Cast (P)
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (P)

2009 Nominated Books in SRR

1. Truancy by Isamu Fukui (J)
2. Bloodlines by Katy Moran (J)
3. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Su)

2008 Winners
1. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (J)
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (J)
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (J)
4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (J)
5. Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by J. Patterson (coming -Mary)
6. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (J)
7. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (J)
8. Extras by Scott Westerfeld (J)
9. Before I Die by Jenny Downham (P)
10. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (P)

2007 Winners
1. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (J)
2. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (P)
3. Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever by James Patterson
4. Firegirl by Tony Abbott (coming - Mary)
5. All Hallows Eve (13 Stories)by Vivian Vande Velde
6. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (M)
7. River Secrets by Shannon Hale (coming - Peta)
8. Bad Kitty
by Michele Jaffe
9. Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks

2006 Winners
1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. (J)
2. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (J)
3. Eldest by Christopher Paolini (coming - Mary)
4. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray (P)
5. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (P)
6. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (P)
7. Poison by Chris Wooding (P)
8. Captain Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart (P)
9. If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? by Melissa Kantor (P)
10. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (P)

2005 Winners
1. Girls In Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
2. The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen (P)
3. Looking For Alaska by John Green (P)
4. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (P)
5. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
6. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson (J)
7. The Gangsta Rap by Benjamin Zephaniah (P)
8. Teen Idol by Meg Cabot
9. The Garden by Elise Aidinoff (P)

2004 Winners
1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
2. Eragon by Christopher Paolini

3. Pirates! by Celia Rees
4. Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
5 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
6. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
7. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (coming- Mary)
8. Princess in Pink by Meg Cabot
9. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler (P)
10. Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L.A. Meyer

2003 Winners
YA Group
1. “Faerie Wars” by Herbie Brennan
2. “What Happened to Lani Garver?” (M)
3. “Abhorsen“ by Garth Nix ("Sabriel")
4. “The First Part Last” by Angela Johnson
5. “Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale” by Holly Black (P)
6. “The Second Summer of the Sisterhood” by Ann Brashares
7. “After” by Francine Prose (M)
8. “Storm Catchers” by Tim Bowler
9. “Once Upon a Marigold” by Jean Ferris
10. “The Thief Lord” by Cornelia Funke
Teen Public
1. "A Wizard Alone: Young Wizards Book 6” by Diane Duane ("So You Want to be a Wizard" Deep in USA)
2. “The Second Summer of the Sisterhood” by Ann Brashares
3. “Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale” by Holly Black (P)
4. “The Thief Lord” by Cornelia Funke
5. “Abhorsen” by Garth Nix ("Sabriel")
6. “The Book of Wizardry: The Apprentice’s Guide to the Secrets of the Wizards’ Guild” by Cornelius Rumstuckle
7. “Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters” by Gail Giles (B)
9. “True Confessions of a Heartless Girl” by Martha Brooks (B)
10. America by E. R. Frank (B)

Where are the books coming from?
(J) = I've donated it
(P) = Peta has donated it.
(B) = Bikki in the USA donated it.

(M) = Mary in the USA donated it

Thanks to all of the people for sending us their books! I've listed their names and countries beside the books they have donated to us.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Cut-throat Celts by Terry Deary


The ghastly truth about the wild warrior race who weren't afraid to fight the Romans. The book includes stories about suffering saints, gruesome games for Celtic kids, and the dreadful Druids with their strange sacrifices and terrible trials.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: YOU ARE SO LUCKY. When I was a teenager we didn't have many great books to read and Horrible Histories is just another example of the type of book I would have eaten up if I'd had them around.

Terry Deary is amazing. He is funny and interesting. He really knows how to make history interesting for young readers. He goes after all the shocking stuff and all the disgusting stuff and he tells us his story in a most amusing way.

Martin Brown's illustrations are hilarious. My favourite was the comparison of the Celtic and Roman solidier ready for battle. The Roman is standing there in full armour, covered from head to toe. Next to him is the Celtic warrior, standing naked except for a little fig leaf over his private parts. My son and I laughed so hard when we saw that.

Deary's books get a lot of the facts on the table and he gives us maps and drawings to make things clear. He tells funny little stories about real people. He makes little question lists (followed by answers) and the result is usually shock and awe.

The Celts are an interesting group and well worth reading about. I think I know a little bit more about European history now. At the very least I know that reading about history is good fun!

Scholastic recently had the whole series in a box set. I'm still kicking myself because I didn't buy it. You see, I only recently discoverd Horrible Histories and their amazing creator Terry Deary. Even if you don't like history, I dare you to pick one up. I'm sure you'll find something in there that you'll love.

Terry Deary is a hero for making history exciting and fun for kids (well, and even for us older types). BTW, we now have a signed copy of the Second World War book for our collection! Yay! Stay tuned, I'll try to get more for the SRR as soon as I can.

4.5/5 Stars

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

An SF novel about vampires . . . Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville's blood. By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn. How long can one man survive like this?

This was kind of like a zombie book. These vampires are nothing like the Twilight vampires. They are mindless killers much more like the Dawn of the Dead zombies.

I saw the movie a while ago and it was okay. I like Will Smith and I found the story interesting enough. I figured I'd give the book a read and see if it was better than the movie.

Actually, it was much better than the movie. Hollywood made a lot of major changes to the script - almost so many that you wouldn't necessarily connect the movie with the book if they didn't have the same title!

As much as I really enjoyed the story, I found myself a bit disappointed because of the twist at the end. If you read it you will know what I mean. I really liked the beginning and Robert Neville's struggle being the only man left on earth. That was fascinating. I would have enjoyed 300+ pages devoted to Neville's struggle to keep sane in his bizarre situation. I really enjoyed the last half of the book and wanted to see how it was going to play out. The book has 317 pages so I was really geared up for a good, long read. However, when I hit page 170 I discovered that the story had finished. The rest of the book includes a variety of Matheson's short horror stories. In fact the horror stories are quiet good, but I had wanted more of I Am Legend. Oh well.

If you like horror or zombie stories, you'll enjoy this one. I Am Legend was published in 1954 so I think we can consider it as one of the first books of its kind. Even just for that, you can feel like you are biting into a bit of horror story history.


3.5/5 Stars

Cell by Stephen King

Amazon.com Review
Witness Stephen King's triumphant, blood-spattered return to the genre that made him famous. Cell, the king of horror's homage to zombie films (the book is dedicated in part to George A. Romero) is his goriest, most horrific novel in years, not to mention the most intensely paced. Casting aside his love of elaborate character and town histories and penchant for delayed gratification, King yanks readers off their feet within the first few pages; dragging them into the fray and offering no chance catch their breath until the very last page.

In Cell King taps into readers fears of technological warfare and terrorism. Mobile phones deliver the apocalypse to millions of unsuspecting humans by wiping their brains of any humanity, leaving only aggressive and destructive impulses behind. Those without cell phones, like illustrator Clayton Riddell and his small band of "normies," must fight for survival, and their journey to find Clayton's estranged wife and young son rockets the book toward resolution.

Fans that have followed King from the beginning will recognize and appreciate Cell as a departure--King's writing has not been so pure of heart and free of hang-ups in years (wrapping up his phenomenal Dark Tower series and receiving a medal from the National Book Foundation doesn't hurt either). "Retirement" clearly suits King, and lucky for us, having nothing left to prove frees him up to write frenzied, juiced-up horror-thrillers like Cell. --Daphne Durham

I have a confession to make. I love zombie movies. I don't know why, but I do. Zombies are really awesome. Dawn of the Dead is the best, of course. The idea that human survivors would hide in a shopping mall and fight off zombies is beyond cool.

I guess I'm fascinated by the human response to tragedy or extreme circumstances. It's the same reason I'm crazy about Titanic and why I enjoyed books like The Lord of the Flies. I always wonder what people would do if we stripped away all the technology and all the comforts of home that we enjoy. How would people react? How would I react? Would I have been one of the fine gentlemen on the Titanic sipping on a drink and vowing to go down with the ship or would I have snuck onto a lifeboat?

Anyway, I was pretty excited when I got a book shipment and inside there was a big, beautiful hardcover copy of this book. Thanks to Ann in the USA for sending it to us! I've never actually read a Stephen King book and after reading On Writing I really wanted to see him in action.

The first chapter will blow your mind. It is disgusting, frightening, and disturbing. If you are into horror, it will knock your socks off. King's story grabs you by the throat and never let's go. I really enjoyed the three main characters and the story was very interesting.

I had never read a zombie book but now I'm convinced there is a lot of room for fun here. I'd like to read more books in this genre. I'm certain if you like horror stories or zombie movies, you will like this book as much as I did.

4/5 Stars

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

*Starred Review* Gr. 5-8. Steven Alper is a typical eighth-grader--smarter than some, a better drummer than most, but with the usual girl problems and family trials. Then, on October 7, his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, falls, has a nosebleed that doesn't stop, and is diagnosed with leukemia. All hell breaks loose. Mrs. Alper's days and nights revolve around getting Jeffrey to his chemotherapy treatments, and Mr. Alper retreats into a shell, coming out only occasionally to weep over the mounting medical bills.

Steven becomes the forgotten son, who throws himself into drumming, even as he quits doing his homework and tries to keep his friends from finding out about Jeffrey's illness. A story that could have morphed into melodrama is saved by reality, rawness, and the wit Sonnenblick infuses into Steven's first-person voice.

The recriminations, cares, and nightmares that come with a cancer diagnosis are all here, underscored by vomiting, white blood cell counts, and chemotherapy ports. Yet, this is also about regrouping, solidarity, love, and hope. Most important for a middle-grade audience, Sonneblick shows that even in the midst of tragedy, life goes on, love can flower, and the one thing you can always change is yourself.

Now, you might wonder why anybody would want to read a book about a teenage boy who has a little brother with cancer. However, this book was #5 on the 2005 Teens' Top Ten list so obviously a lot of teenagers read and enjoyed it. I usually only read books that I think will be fun to read, so I was skeptical about this one but I wanted to give it a try.

Actually, I'm glad I did. Sonnenblick's writing is very interesting and easy to read. I felt for Steven, the main character and I found his experiences to be fascinating. I could empathize with him and all the things he was going through. I think it is quite authentic - Steven probably reacts like any teenager would in times of a family crisis.

Steven is just trying to get on with his life. He enjoys playing drums and he's worried about girls and school and all that stuff. At the same time, he has to struggle with the fact that his brother has cancer. He has to face his relationship with his parents and deal with his own selfish feelings.

This book was different and because of that I really enjoyed it. It made me laugh and cry. I highly recommend it to students who want to read something more serious then the usual YA fair. The writer wrote this for one of his students who was going through a similar situation. If you've ever gone through a family crisis like a sick sibling, you might find this book a comfort as well.

4/5 Stars